When Cleveland Browns running back
Shortly after the start of training camp last year, Richardson underwent knee surgery and missed all four of the Browns’ preseason games. This time around, the second-year running back was able to build that timing and find that rhythm through training camp and the preseason games.
“It’s so much better,” Richardson said. “Last year, I just went right into the fire. Now, it’s time to get better and better each day. The offensive line is making better communication. (Quarterback) Brandon (Weeden) does what he does in communicating with the offensive line. Everything is on point. Our coaches are communicating with the offense, getting the plays in and out. With the timing, it’s a big, important thing. I think it’s gotten so much better over the past few weeks.
In addition to building chemistry with the offensive line, Richardson has “grown as a player,” according to six-time Pro Bowl left tackle
“I think a lot of guys make good jumps between their first and second years, and I see Trent progressing and growing, and making a really nice jump in his second season,” Thomas said. “I’m expecting some great things from him this year.”
Entering the regular season, which starts on Sept. 8 against the Miami Dolphins at FirstEnergy Stadium, Richardson feels confident about the direction of the Browns under coach Rob Chudzinski.
“I know the game plan is to be one of the best offenses in the league, to be a good, balanced offense,” Richardson said. “You go in, game-in and game-out, and know from the practice how good you’ve been running this play. You’ve already got in your mind going into the game what type of plays you’re doing, how well we’ve been practicing with our timing, how the offensive line is doing with it, how Brandon’s doing with it, how I’ve been.
“We’re trying to go uphill. We’re not going downhill. We know there’s going to be a lot of bumps in the road. There’s going to be a lot of fighting, a lot of pulling and pushing. We’ve just got to play football and play it like we know how to play it.”
Hampered by injuries to the knee and ribs and having no preseason work to develop chemistry with the offensive line, Richardson still broke six of the Browns’ rookie records and tied a seventh in 2012. He rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns on 267 carries, caught 51 passes for 367 yards and one touchdown, and had three 100-yard games.
Since the end of the 2012 regular season, Richardson dropped down from 237 pounds to 225, where he plans on staying for the entire year.
“Feeling that quick and this light, I feel real soft on my feet, real light on my feet, and that’s a good thing,” Richardson said. “It’s a real good thing, so when I do make that explosive cut through the hole, hopefully, nobody can see me and I can just flash right through there. It’s just a lot of hard work, and it’s a mental thing too, mental and physical.”
After the weight loss and developing a rhythm with the offensive line, Richardson knows the offense is ready to take the next step.
“We’ve got to learn how to start fast and finish strong, and take no team or no game lightly,” Richardson said. “Everything is a learning opportunity. It’s always a time to get better, always a time to be that best team or be a better team, always time to man up in different situations. The offense didn’t look good, but it was a lot of learning. There was a lot of progress made. We’ve got to grow up. We’ve got to be men. We’ve got to step up.”